- Hans Weber
- December 1, 2023
New Czech marker at Capas National Shrine unveiled
Originally erected for only seven Czechoslovak nationals, the new Czech marker honors the heroism of all 14 Czechoslovak nationals who stood shoulder to shoulder with their Filipino and American counterparts in the fight for freedom in the Philippines, namely Jan Bžoch, Pavel Fuchs, Leo Hermann, Jaroslav Hrdina, Fred Lenk, Hans Lenk, Josef Vařák, Antonín Volný, Karel Aster, Karel Dančák, Bedřich “Fred” Herman, Otto Hirsch, Arnošt “Ernest” Morávek, and Norbert Schmelkes.
The event was graced by Department of National Defense (DND) Assistant Secretary Antonio Bautista, National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Commissioner Lino Dizon, Tarlac Governor Susan Yap, Capas Mayor Roseller Rodriguez, and Col. Agerico Amagna from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO). Partners from the diplomatic community and members of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines also attended the unveiling ceremony.
In his opening remarks, Guoth expressed his gratitude to former Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jana Šedivá, who was the driving force behind the installation of the new granite marker. Driven by a deep sense of historical preservation, the former ambassador brought the project to fruition as “she rallied for support from government authorities, historians and other stakeholders,”Guoth added.
Tarlac Governor Susan Yap, meanwhile, said that the province of Tarlac is “honored and privileged to serve as its (Czech marker) home” and hopes that the marker may “serve as a lasting reminder of our shared history.”
Col. Agerico Amagna, Chief of the Veterans Memorial and Historical Division of PVAO, shared a brief history of how the 14 Czechoslovak heroes dedicated their lives for freedom in the Philippines.
In his closing message, DND Assistant Secretary Antonio Bautista also honored the Czech defenders of Bataan, stressing the fundamental values of liberty and freedom shared between the Czech Republic and the Philippines. Asec. Bautista further expressed his optimism for more meaningful engagements between the Czech Republic and the Philippines, especially in the area of defense industry and logistics.
Unknown to many, 14 Czechoslovak nationals fought alongside Filipino and American forces in the Philippines during World War II. In honor of their bravery, a marker was erected at the Capas National Shrine but only for seven Czechoslovak nationals. It was through the initiative of former Czech Ambassador Jana Šedivá that a new marker that includes all names of the 14 Czechoslovak heroes was finally installed.
The ceremony was made possible through the joint efforts of the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office. The unveiling of the Czech marker is a fitting prelude to a jubilant occasion as the Czech Republic and the Philippines are set to celebrate 50 years of official diplomatic ties in October—a significant milestone in the diplomatic relations between the two nations.